Pneumonia cases in hospitals more deadly than heart attacks: experts

VIENNA — Patients taken to hospital with pneumonia are more likely to die than those suffering heart attacks and must be treated as emergency cases, experts at an Austrian conference have claimed.

The experts, attending the annual conference for the Austrian Society of Pulmonology in Vienna, said the mortality rate for patients with heart attacks is presently under five percent, while about 10 percent of persons taken to hospital with pneumonia succumb to the lung condition.

“This is partly due to the fact that lung inflammation is often grossly underestimated as a life-threatening condition,” OeGP expert Holger Flick said, according to an Austria Press Agency report on Friday.

He said new findings show that even if patients admitted to hospital do not show immediate signs of being in a critical condition, they should still be subjected to intense monitoring and therapy from the outset.

These people are often simply placed in normal wards, though their condition can worsen dramatically within just a few hours, he said, with those aged more than 65 at particular risk.

In the case of heart attacks, hospital teams are on high alert and subsequently take an immediate course of action, a level of attention the experts at the conference argue should also be applied in cases of pneumonia.

A new set of guidelines to improve the quality of this treatment has thus been developed jointly by Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. PNA/